Wash winter’s grit & road salt away and enjoy the Spring weather in your clean ride!
[one_fourth_last]Spring cleaning checklist
• Undercarriage flush With the onset of spring, all car owners should have their car’s undercarriage flushed.
• De-grunge To remove grunge you need to wash your car with a strong detergent; most car wash solutions do not have the strength to cut through the dirt. Try a solution of 1 ounce of dish-washing detergent to 3 gallons of cool water to wash your car.
• Clean and seal If your car’s paint feels rough, you need a cleaner. If your paint has scuffs and scratches, you need a heavier polish.
• Treat If your car has a leather or vinyl interior, it needs to be treated before the onset of summer’s heat.
• Dashboard Shine the dashboard with a clean fabric softener sheet. The antistatic elements will help repel dust from the dashboard.
• Chrome & Windows To clean chrome & glass, sprinkle Baking Soda on a damp rag, scrub, & rinse clean.
• Hubcaps To clean dirt & grime from hubcaps, spray with Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. Let sit for 15 seconds and rinse clean.
Battery– Have your battery checked along with the charging system. Most people feel that the cold is tough on a vehicle’s battery, but it is heat that truly wears a battery out!
Tires– Have your tires checked for wear and have them rotated if needed. Teen-agers really do not enjoy changing tires while on vacation. Swimming and boating is a lot more desirable to them then this activity.
Cooling system– Ensure that your coolant can handle the extra heat you will be asking it to absorb and make sure it is still protecting all the different metals in your engine. Have the belts and hoses checked as well. The number one reason for vehicle break down while on the road is a blown heater hose.
Fluids– Make sure that all critical fluids are full and ready to make the long trip with no problems along the way! This list includes engine oil, transmission fluid, brake and power steering fluid, and also differential fluid. Change any of these fluids that are at the end of their useful life.
A/C– No time is the air conditioning system needed more then during a long road trip with the family all on board the vehicle. Cooler inside temperatures usually mean cooler tempers and a lot more enjoyable road trip. The A/C system should be checked for proper performance including compressor operation along with the cooling fans. You need to ensure that vehicle will be properly cooled when the outside heat is 90 plus degrees. Most newer vehicles are now equipped with a cabin filter and this needs checked yearly especially if anyone in the family suffers from allergies. Lastly, the A/C system should be checked for any small leaks so that the A/C does not quit half-way through your fun filled vacation trip.
Click here to get more summer tips specifically for your vehicle.
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With so many motor vehicles around these days one would have thought it would be a simple task to find an auto repair shop. In fact finding an auto repair shop is not so hard; the problem is finding a good one. What constitutes a good auto repair shop depends on a combination of factors among which are prices, customer service and the quality of the work. Here are some tips, which should prove helpful if you are looking for a good auto repair shop.
It is advised that you don’t wait until you actually need a mechanic to start looking for one. When the need for the services of a mechanic arises you should already have an auto repair shop in mind. You will find them in the phone book but looking at an ad and speaking to them on the phone will hardly be a good test of their competence. A better method is to ask around. Co-workers, neighbors and relatives may be able to recommend auto repair shops they have had first hand experience with. They may also tell you which ones to avoid.
You will need to do some detective work as well. A good idea would be to have a checklist of things to check out. Take note of the customer service, how they deal with another customer who may have a grouse about a completed job can be an eye-opener. Note if they seem organized and professional. This may not be easy as the garage area is often restricted to staff only. Enquire about prices if they are not displayed. Do they charge a flat fee or do they charge by the hour? Make a comparison with other auto repair shops. Find out if the auto repair shop honors warranties and if they have warranty programs of their own. Check to see if the mechanics are certified and if they belong to any industry organizations. This could be an indication of their level of competence. Certificates may be displayed but then again they could be fraudulent. Make sure that the facility is secure in case you have to leave the vehicle overnight. Perhaps it would be a good idea to verify if permits and insurance are up to date too.
After investigations and enquiries on your part you should still err on the side of caution. Give them a test, a small repair job, and evaluate their performance. If you are satisfied with the results then you can trust them with more serious car issues.
Finding a reliable and trustworthy auto repair shop is important if you own a motor vehicle. Getting to know the people and building a good relationship there is key, as that would lessen the chances of you being ripped off by unscrupulous people. After all, you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of overpriced jobs and unnecessary repairs. For auto repair coupons be sure to visit Car-X Automotive Services.
After you have spent a tidy sum on a car purchase, it makes sense to protect that investment by maintaining your car through regular check ups as prescribed by the manufacturer. If you become aware of any knocking, grinding or other noises emanating from your car, or if your car does not seem to have its usual power, then a further investigation into the cause is in order.
When you start the engine, it should start with no delay. The idling engine should be continuous and smooth, without any hiccups. Check your tailpipe to ensure that there are no black smoke or liquid emissions. Any moisture you see within the engine is most likely indicative of a leak.
Check the fan, timing and other belts to make sure that they are not cracked and brittle. If they are, get them changed out. Also, look at the fuel and air filters and make sure that they are clean and free of solid deposits, and examine the contacts on spark plugs.
If your engine oil level is insufficient, you risk ruining your entire engine. If you find that you have to top up oil frequently, then most likely there are gaskets that are faulty and need replacing. The marker on the dipstick will tell you the level of oil in the engine. Make sure that the oil is not above the “full” mark, nor close to the “empty” marker. Engine oil should not be dark brown or opaque, nor should it appear that it contains water.
Ensure that the level of coolant in the radiator is sufficient. Note, however, that this should not be done when the engine is already heated as you risk getting burned. The radiator fan should be in good working order to cool the engine sufficiently. The radiator hoses should be free of cracks and tears. Your temperature gauge should lie just below the mid-point between “Hot” and “Cold”: anytime the gauge moves colder to the “Hot” marker, immediately switch off your engine, let it cool for at least 20 minutes, and begin your investigation into the temperature rise.
Check the oil pressure: when you turn the starter, the oil indicator light should not stay on for longer than two seconds; if it does, turn off your engine directly and check the oil filter and engine oil levels.
If you find that the gears do not engage smoothly from first to second, second to Drive, and so on, check transmission fluid for sufficiency and efficacy.
We all know how pesky the Check Engine light on your dashboard can be. It is inconvenient and troublesome to take your car in to get this checked. There are a few common triggers for the Check Engine light that all drivers should be aware of. Check Engine lights can be complicated to repair – knowing how they work and what to check for will help you take the best care of your vehicle, as well as avoid unnecessary trips to an auto mechanic.
Understanding the Check Engine light
This light serves as a warning indicator. It is a response of your vehicle’s computer to changes or hindrances in the emission control system. When the light comes on, it is a result of one of many trouble codes stored in the system. These trouble codes are what auto mechanics use to determine the cause of the light.
Every U.S.–manufactured vehicle must pass a Federal Test Procedure – an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test, which sets allowable limits of deterioration of your emission control system. The Check Engine light was created to indicate that your emission control system is failing, causing your vehicle to pollute the air. However, many other factors can cause the light to turn on, which makes diagnosing the cause tricky.
Tips to keep in mind
• Is your gas cap closed tightly? – This is an extremely common trigger for the Check Engine light in many vehicles. If the cap is not sealed properly, the pressure is not correct, which signals the light to turn on.
• Are you carrying a heavy load? – It is possible for heavy loads combined with high speeds to effect how your car’s computer views the emission control system.
• Do you have OnStar? – If you have a 1997 or later General Motors vehicle equipped with OnStar and an active OnStar subscription, advisors can read the code and give advice on what to do.
• Is a serious problem causing it? – Check your dashboard gauges and lights to see if there are issues such as overheating and low oil pressure. Problems such as these are critical, and indicate that you should pull over and shut off your engine as soon as possible.
• Is your car performing differently? – Your vehicle should be inspected if you notice a change in how your vehicle is running.
• Do not confuse a red Check Engine light with a yellow Service Engine Soon light. This is a warning that indicates your should proceed with caution, and can be caused by anti-lock brake systems, faulty sensors, safety restraint systems, or emission components. These issues typically require an experienced technician to fix.
Due to the excessive number of travelers driving during the holiday season, it is important to remember the following to avoid any possible trouble on the road.
• Plan ahead – Plan time preceding your trip to assure your car is tuned up and ready for travel. Plan the route you will take, and leave early to ensure you get to your destination safely.
• Check your oil – Depending on how far you are traveling, it may be necessary to get your oil changed.
• Check your tires – Check the tread, and ensure there is sufficient tire pressure. This helps improve handling and increases your tires’ resistance to damage.
• Buckle up – Passengers have a lower tendency to wear their seatbelts during long road trips. Unfortunately, holidays are one of the most vital times to be buckled up due to the increased amount of cars on the road.
• Stay alert – Pull over and rest or switch drivers every so often. It is imperative to stay refreshed while driving during such a busy time of the year. Plan to make stops along the way.
• Slow down – Speeding can result in a ticket, a car accident, or worse. Slowing down also increases fuel efficiency.
• Avoid distractions – Do not use your cell phone or GPS while driving.
• Bring a safety kit – Include a flashlight, food and drinks, jumper cables, a first aid kit, an ice scraper, and anything else you feel you may need in the case of an emergency.
• Don’t over-indulge – If there will be drinking at your holiday celebration, designate a driver.
The holidays are all about family and friends. By taking a few extra steps when planning your trip, you can prevent any problems regarding travel and enjoy the festivities.
Back to school can be a time of big decisions for parents and students. One of the most difficult is whether or not to take a car away to college. Consider the following when making this decision:
• Responsible use – Has your child done his or her part in taking care of their vehicle so far? Have they driven safely and not had a problem with speeding tickets or accidents? Keep in mind the atmosphere of college inevitably means less supervision and more opportunities for poor decisions, so trust is a major factor.
• School policy – Colleges have varying policies on cars for students. Many universities don’t allow first-year students to bring cars to campus. If your student’s school does allow vehicles, the next thing to look into is parking. Will there be a nearby lot or deck they can park in, or will they have to park further away? If the parking area safe?
• Convenience to family – Does it make sense to the rest of the family that your student’s car be gone for semesters at a time? There could be younger siblings near or of driving age that may need the car.
• Jobs or internships – If your student has a part-time job or internship this fall, especially off-campus, then it is important they have a reliable means of transportation.
• Cost – Does your child have a way to pay for gas, parking permits, etc., or will you be covering that? Come up with a plan, such as you paying a certain percentage if your student maintains a certain GPA.
• Rules – Should you make the decision your student will take their car, establish some ground rules. Classmates will surely ask to borrow or drive the car at some point.
• Alternatives – Should you decide your student won’t take their car, there are several alternatives to having a car on campus to consider.
According to the 2010 Census, there are about three times more used cars than new cars sold each year. If you are among the population that currently drives a used car, you know how important maintaining you car can be. The below tips will help make your used car last longer.
• Drive carefully – This may seem like a no-brainer, but the way your vehicle is driven has a greater impact on its lifespan than nature. By making sure you drive the speed limit and making smooth start and go transitions, you can reduce unnecessary wear on your vehicle, in addition to improving gas mileage.
• Follow recommended maintenance schedule – 40% of American drivers delay regularly scheduled maintenance to save money. Unfortunately, putting off these important checkups can eventually lead to costlier transactions. Items such as filter and fluid replacements and fixing minor repairs will help extend your vehicle’s life, as well as help you avoid poor performance or expensive repairs down the road. Simple maintenance items can make a huge difference. For example, changing your vehicle’s air filter when needed helps the engine last longer.
• Keep your car clean – Remove dirt and debris from both the inside and outside of your car as often as possible. This prevents your car from aging prematurely. In addition, regularly cleaning often helps spot potential problems earlier, and gives you the opportunity to repair them before they get worse.
• Monitor your cooling system – Your car’s cooling system is very important to keeping your engine well cared for. Maintaining the system along with having the right level of coolant can potentially save you thousands of dollars in future repairs.
• Keep your tires in good shape – Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road, therefore, should be properly maintained. Make sure your tires have the right amount of pressure and tread and get them rotated per your owner’s manual. Your tires impact the way your vehicle handles, which in turn impacts the condition of its parts.
• Use high mileage motor oil – Two-thirds of vehicles on the road are considered high mileage, and many of them are a quart or more low on motor oil. With older cars, burn-off (the evaporation of oil) is a common occurrence. The problem is magnified when you car has an inadequate amount of oil. When the oil breaks down, it deposits a dirty emission in your engine, which causes it to be less efficient and prone to failure. High mileage motor oil is designed to combat the burn-off, as well as maintain the proper amount of oil. It is recommended for all cars with over 75,000 miles.
• Keep accurate maintenance records – Keep a notebook in your car and document all services performed on it. Keep all receipts and documents in a safe place should you ever need to refer to them.
• Shelter – If possible, keep your car in a garage or carport of some kind. The sun’s rays can be harmful to your car, and can cause premature aging as with people.
• Pay attention to your warranty – If you have a warranty on your used car that is about to expire, there are a number of things you should do before it does. These include repairing damaged or concerning parts, checking for recalls, and getting a comprehensive checkup. You may want to consider an extended warranty, such as a vehicle service contract, which covers vehicle repairs, or a maintenance contract, which covers scheduled maintenance.
Getting ready to buy?
• If you are preparing to buy a car, do your research. Check performance and maintenance ratings on all vehicles you are considering. Sites such as Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds can help you determine the higher rated vehicles, which typically last longer. There is a tool that calculates the True Cost to Own (TCO), which helps show the maintenance and repair costs you can expect for particular vehicles.
No doubt at some point in time you may have heard the ongoing debate about which type of motor oil is best for your motor vehicle. The particular motor oils in question are conventional motor oil and synthetic motor oil. As an owner, or potential owner of a motor vehicle, naturally the topic will interest you. This is because you may have good reason to rethink your current choice in the case of current users, while potential users will know how to proceed. We will briefly explore the subject in an effort to assist with the decision making process.
Functions of Motor Oil
Although the primary function of motor oils is to lubricate all the moving parts of the engine, it carries out a few other functions as well. Motor oils serve to keep the engine cool and provides protection against wear by reducing friction. It also prevents corrosion and keeps the engine free from small pieces of debris.
Conventional Motor Oil
Conventional motor oil has its origins in crude oil, which is pumped from the ground and is processed. A base oil is produced to which additives are added. This changes the properties of the liquid giving it protection properties, improved heat breakdown levels, and viscosity.
Synthetic Motor Oil
Unlike conventional motor oil the base oil of synthetic motor oil comprises artificial or synthesized components, thus its name. Like conventional motor oil however, additives are added to give it properties similar to those of conventional motor oil.
Differences Between Conventional and Synthetic Motor Oil
Although they both carry out the same functions both oils have significant differences in addition to having their pros and cons. Conventional motor oil contains minute amounts of wax, sulfur, and asphaltic material, which are by-products of its manufacturing process. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, because it is chemically produced, has none of these contaminants. Another difference between the two is that synthetic motor oils will flow at much lower temperatures making it preferable in harsh winter conditions. At these same low temperatures conventional motor oil would freeze. Being more consistent in size and shape, the molecules of synthetic motor oils better withstand extreme temperatures; hence it will take longer to break down under extreme heat than conventional motor oils. Synthetic motor oils have very low viscosity ratings and in some cases have been known to flow up to seven times faster than conventional motor oils. This comes in handy at engine start up time, as that is when the most engine wear is likely to occur.
Making Your Choice
In deciding on which motor oil you will be using there are other factors besides those already mentioned, which will have to be taken into account. One of these is the type of car that will be using the motor oil. A high performance racecar owner will obviously choose the synthetic motor oil, as that is the oil they were specifically made to use. Newer cars with smaller clearances will also lean towards synthetic motor oils. The cost of the motor oil will play a significant role in the decision on which oil to use too, as the cost of synthetic motor oil can be as much as four times that of conventional motor oil. If someone changes their car yearly they may say why bother towaste extra money on synthetic oil. The car’s age could also play a part as waxes and sludge build-up by conventional motor oil could mask worn engine seals. These could come to light with the introduction of synthetic motor oils, which tends to break down and clean away those build-ups, thus possibly causing leaks and creating problems.
For all of your oil change needs be sure to visit Car-X.com The debate is by no means over and the points here by no means exhaustive, but it is hoped that they will at least point you in the right direction when the time comes for you to buy motor oils
It is likely at some point in your life you will get a flat tire. Do you know what to do without having to ask for help?
• It is important to find a flat, level surface on which to change the tire. This will prevent the car from rolling.
• Your vehicle should be in “Park” and should have the parking brake on.
• Place heavy objects in front of both sets of tires.
• Getting out the jack and spare tire, place the jack under the frame of the car, near the tire you will be changing.
• If your car has plastic along the bottom, as most cars do, make sure the jack is in the correct spot based on your owner’s manual. If it is not in the correct spot, it could crack the plastic.
• Raise the jack to a point where it is supporting, not lifting, the car, ensuring it is firmly in place under the vehicle. It should be at a 90 degree angle to the ground.
• To remove the tire, you first need to take off the hubcap and loosen the nuts with a wrench, turning them counterclockwise. They do not need to be taken off completely, just loosened.
• Depending on the jack, pump or crank the jack to lift the tire up off the ground. While doing this, make sure that the car feels stable and the jack is lifting straight up and not at an angle.
• At this point, remove the nuts entirely. Remove the tire, keeping in mind that it may be stuck because of rust buildup. Hitting the tire with any sort of object (such as the spare tire), should loosen it.
• Aligning the rim of the spare tire with the bolts of the wheel, place the new spare tire on and put the nuts on.
• Tighten the nuts first by hand and then with the wrench once they get tighter.
• Lower the jack, but do not yet put the full weight on the tire. Tighten the nuts as much as possible, then lower the car completely to the ground and remove the jack.
• Ensure the nuts are tightened all the way and replace the hubcap.
• If the tire is not destroyed, take it into a mechanic. Tires with smaller holes can typically be repaired for under $20.
• Always refer to your owner’s manual if there are any questions about where things go.